Hoop Stream of Consciousness: Following Through

Seasons, four for every year in New England; then I moved west into less distinct turns of time. This state is Golden…but still thirsty for something other than sunshine. Long-suffering, a term used to describe a region’s sports fans; it’s Northern Ohio whose fans have endured more. Reading and writing too much about one thing is not always healthy. I’ve put myself through another all-encompassing ride. Time feels more precious already, and we aren’t even in the waiting room yet. It will always slip, it’s just a question of how and why and taking a moment to preserve in memory, without space or time to constrain.

Imagine how insignificant a basketball game used to be. Naismith and baskets of peaches, the bottoms cut out. Not Apple baskets? Pear baskets? Peaches are thin-skinned and delicate, sweet and juicy. Apple baskets would not have made sense for this game. I dribbled basketballs and peach nectar one summer before high school. Devoted my sweat and my dreams to a sport for many years. You hear about the game providing sanctuary. I remember free-throws as meditation. Memories of muscle memory. Spin. Three bounces. Spin. Raise. Release. Follow-through.

Following-through wasn’t always easy. Stepping in to the new, no problem. Staying there and coming back was a challenge. Like higher-level math. When math was a game, first to finish racing to the 4th grade teacher’s desk, and stars on the wall, then I could play it well. Then it became a game of patience and logic. I could get by but never enjoyed the challenge.

The act of writing and the love of basketball are complementary. Improvisation is key. Players and writers: both recognize a “flow” state. State the word “flow” to the most logical, the numbers-based, and it may prove impossible to explain. You know it when you feel it, or have felt it, yourself. Stream-of-consciousness writing doesn’t always find that flow state, though it provides a structure to lose yourself in.

I love writing. I love stories. I love the stories contained within the beautiful game. Maybe I’ve exhausted this obsession. Seems appropriate that I won’t have time to keep this stream flowing uninterrupted next year, or the year after…or the year after.

What does it mean that I followed through on this stream/dream of hoops consciousness for these last few years? If I were a literal sort, I might list the pros and cons and then decide on what I’ve gained. Instead, I’ll recognize the attention I paid was never wasted. Paying attention to those urges is always valuable. Call it edifying. Call it soul nourishing. Call it dreaming. I have done it and will continue to do it in other ways.

Like those free-throws, thousands of late summer afternoons and early evenings in September and October, before the seasons ever started. Those pure moments of solitude, of swish and clang, of counting the makes and misses. Obsessions can be meditations. Writing and hoops are both.

I’ll leave my hand up, following through. And on to the next…

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Small Ball Is All: Warriors Stretch Thinned-Out Cavs Out Like a Piece of Bubblicious

Spilled thoughts after Game 5 of Golden State-Cleveland.

  • Leandro Barbosa: 13 points in 17 minutes off bench. They used to call him the Blur. Blurbosa!
  • Steph Curry dribbles the basketball like a wizard, goblin, mirage, cookie monster, genius.
  • LeBron James is very good at basketball and it’s not just the numbers. It’s everything.
  • LeBron and Draymond Green are equally awful about complaining to the refs. LeBron just has the ball all the time.
  • ABC/ESPN commentator Mike Breen really has to stop saying, “LeBron thought he was fouled on that one.”
  • I wonder if Breen’s producers are encouraging him to glorify the already mythic LeBron by making every miss a foul.
  • Andrew Bogut played the same amount of minutes as James Michael McAdoo in Game 5: none.
  • Not playing Bogut and starting Andre Iguodala allowed the Warriors to clearly dictate the pace of play in the last two games of the series.
  • Golden State is 15-1 this post-season when collecting 22 or more assists.
  • Matthew Dellavedova was a great story after Game 2. An even bigger story after Game 3.
  • Outside of Ohio and Australia, nobody with a sound mind thought his energy was sustainable.
  • According to ESPN Stats, (via Tom Haberstroh’s Twitter) Dellavedova hit the floor: 8 times in Game 2, 8 times in Game 3, 1 time in Game 4, and 3 times in Game 5. Exhaustion was so severe he was hospitalized after Game 3.
  • He still played great defense against Steph for the first three quarters of Game 5.
  • Dellavedova’s tired legs were apparent in his shooting in Games 4 and 5: 5 of 23 overall, 3 of 14 from deep.
  • Andre Iguodala‘s legs are not tired, in part because he averaged 27 min per game during the regular season, and hadn’t played more than 32 minutes in a playoff game this year before Game 2 of the Finals.
  • Iguodala’s defense on LeBron has been excellent, regardless of Lebron’s numbers. “Making him work” for baskets applies to how Iguodala is impacting LeBron. LeBron’s 4th quarters have been ugly in Games 3, 4 and 5, in large part because of the insane amount of weight he’s been forced to carry without Kyrie, and in part because of Iguodala.
  • Iguodala’s Game 5: 42 min / 5 of 11 / 2 of 5 (deep) / 2 of 11 FT (yikes!) / 14 pts / 8 reb / 7 ast / 0 to / 3 stl.
  • If Cavs coach David Blatt insists on playing small to counter the small ball of the Warriors, he has to lean on creaky Mike Miller (14 minutes in Game 5) or the elderly Shawn Marion (zero minutes in Finals)
  • Blatt’s press conferences are barely tolerable. He is not being asked the brightest questions by the international media members, and his responses show a lack of humility and are dripping with sarcasm and condescension. The man has not earned the gravitas of Popovich, nor does he match the dry wit.
  • Will there be a Game 7?
  • Might depend on how many free-throws LeBron gets in Game 6. Over 20 free-throws? Yes, we will have a Game 7.
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